Alumnus receives the 2014 MusiCounts Teacher of the Year Award
Shocked and overwhelmed, alumnus Jeff Kula humbly approached Juno Nominee, Gord Bramford, at the front of a not-so-normal school assembly to receive the 2014 MusiCounts Teacher of the Year award on March 26th.
“I had no idea that this was coming, and I am humbled; it’s nothing that I set up to do. It ‘s a reflection of the students more than me. I’m just really lucky to have these great kids come to my door and to meet so many great young people,” says Kula, a graduate of the School of Music (/87) and the Bachelor of Education program (/87) at the University of Manitoba. As a sessional instructor, Kula teaches a percussion techniques course at the U of M’s School of Music and for the past 15 years he has been the only full-time Instrumental Music Director at River East Collegiate (REC).
The MusiCounts Teacher of the Year award recognizes Kula’s 27 years as an exceptional music educator and is given to educators who go above and beyond to encourage music making. MusiCounts is a Canadian music education charity that is associated with The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS), the organization responsible for conducting the Juno Awards
In honour of Kula’s dedication, MusiCounts awarded him $10,000, a solid crystal JUNO Award statuette, and VIP treatment throughout the 2014 JUNO Week, which included recognition at the Chairman’s Reception. He was also invited to attend the JUNO Gala Dinner & Awards and a walk on the red carpet at the 2014 JUNO Awards Broadcast. In addition, MusiCounts will contribute $10,000 to River East Collegiate’s music program. Kula reckons the money will purchase instruments to help facilitate music programs for the incoming Grade 9 students.
During his career, Kula has developed a reputation and honed an ability to motivate students to produce music. He is an innovative and highly sought after music teacher who has established a variety of music opportunities including no-cut music programs that make it possible for students with a wide range of ability to play. He explains that the power of music is its ability to bring people together.
“Music offers a sense of community; in the music world everyone has to work together to take the product right – that is the power of music making.”
His love for the students and music motivate him through the long hours the program demands.
“I do what I can to offer a variety of programs because the students propel me to do my job. I try to be creative and offer neat opportunities in an attempt to meet them at their level and push them to make music to the best of their ability.”
These programs range from chamber choirs, to jazz ensembles, to electronic music options.
A student for life, Kula stays on top of his game as a percussionist by continuing to practice his art daily and as a member of the cover band, Pop the Truck, and by performing with local country music signer, David James. You can see him play at local Winnipeg establishments on the weekends.